AN ANCIENT HERITAGE

THE ARAB-AMERICAN MINORITY

A fascinating picture of this large but inconspicuous group (between two and three million). Cogently summarizing their history, Ashabranner describes a steady ``trickle'' of Arabs to the U.S. from the late 19th century until 1924, when non-European immigration was severely limited. Characteristically, Arabs began as peddlars and later opened small stores; readily absorbed by the mainstream, their children often became professionals. The establishment of Israel began a second wave that included many Palestinians, whose plight Ashabranner presents with well-founded sympathy. The bulk of the book is comprised of positive anecdotal portraits (beautifully supported by Conklin's b&w photos), based on interviews and featuring hard-working achievers like researchers, artists, and businessmen. A gas-station owner and out-of-work automotive worker are exceptions here; the author is deliberately countering negative stereotypes, and his examples and explicit discussion of the problem are especially telling. A bit one-sided, but still a valuable survey of the culture and contributions of this little-known minority. Bibliography; index.~(Nonfiction. 10+)

Pub Date: April 15, 1991

ISBN: 0-06-020048-0

Page Count: 148

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1991

A YEAR DOWN YONDER

From the Grandma Dowdel series , Vol. 2

Year-round fun.

Set in 1937 during the so-called “Roosevelt recession,” tight times compel Mary Alice, a Chicago girl, to move in with her grandmother, who lives in a tiny Illinois town so behind the times that it doesn’t “even have a picture show.”

This winning sequel takes place several years after A Long Way From Chicago (1998) leaves off, once again introducing the reader to Mary Alice, now 15, and her Grandma Dowdel, an indomitable, idiosyncratic woman who despite her hard-as-nails exterior is able to see her granddaughter with “eyes in the back of her heart.” Peck’s slice-of-life novel doesn’t have much in the way of a sustained plot; it could almost be a series of short stories strung together, but the narrative never flags, and the book, populated with distinctive, soulful characters who run the gamut from crazy to conventional, holds the reader’s interest throughout. And the vignettes, some involving a persnickety Grandma acting nasty while accomplishing a kindness, others in which she deflates an overblown ego or deals with a petty rivalry, are original and wildly funny. The arena may be a small hick town, but the battle for domination over that tiny turf is fierce, and Grandma Dowdel is a canny player for whom losing isn’t an option. The first-person narration is infused with rich, colorful language—“She was skinnier than a toothpick with termites”—and Mary Alice’s shrewd, prickly observations: “Anybody who thinks small towns are friendlier than big cities lives in a big city.”

Year-round fun. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 978-0-8037-2518-8

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2000

PERCY JACKSON'S GREEK GODS

The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories.

Percy Jackson takes a break from adventuring to serve up the Greek gods like flapjacks at a church breakfast.

Percy is on form as he debriefs readers concerning Chaos, Gaea, Ouranos and Pontus, Dionysus, Ariadne and Persephone, all in his dude’s patter: “He’d forgotten how beautiful Gaea could be when she wasn’t all yelling up in his face.” Here they are, all 12 Olympians, plus many various offspring and associates: the gold standard of dysfunctional families, whom Percy plays like a lute, sometimes lyrically, sometimes with a more sardonic air. Percy’s gift, which is no great secret, is to breathe new life into the gods. Closest attention is paid to the Olympians, but Riordan has a sure touch when it comes to fitting much into a small space—as does Rocco’s artwork, which smokes and writhes on the page as if hit by lightning—so readers will also meet Makaria, “goddess of blessed peaceful deaths,” and the Theban Teiresias, who accidentally sees Athena bathing. She blinds him but also gives him the ability to understand the language of birds. The atmosphere crackles and then dissolves, again and again: “He could even send the Furies after living people if they committed a truly horrific crime—like killing a family member, desecrating a temple, or singing Journey songs on karaoke night.”

The inevitable go-to for Percy’s legions of fans who want the stories behind his stories. (Mythology. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-8364-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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